Blackfen in 1962

Today would’ve been my dad’s birthday so I was thinking about 1962 – the year he moved to Blackfen from Wandsworth. With his job as an overseas telegraph operator he had saved enough money to get a mortgage on a house in the tree-lined East Rochester Way.

What did Blackfen look like in 1962? Although my dad was a keen photographer he took virtually no photographs of Blackfen which is rather annoying!

Wally Racher, shoe repairer was still in his cabin near the Jolly Fenman, from which he would regularly emerge to see school children across the road. There was a grocery store at 10 Blackfen Road (now converted back to a house), and a newsagent/Post Office at the corner of Fen Grove. In the centre of Blackfen you could find Jackson’s greengrocers, Lintorn Butchers, the Corn Shop, Homepride, Woolworths, Lipton and Sylvia’s Cafe as well as the still familiar names J. Ayre bakers and Copelands the newsagent. One of my dad’s favourite shops was Corbett’s timber merchant and his favourite pub was The Jolly Fenman.

The library was in an austere building in Cedar Avenue. The Odeon Cinema in Westwood Lane had been closed for years but the derelict building still stood in 1962. (Shortly afterwards it was demolished and replaced by Safeway). The A2 flyover had not yet been built and there was just a crossroads with a set of traffic lights. It was in 1969 that the Rochester Way was widened and the grass verges were lost.

There are quite a few photographs from this era in my book ‘Woodmen and Fenmen: Blackfen’s Story’ which you can borrow or purchase from Blackfen Library. It was because of my dad that I wrote the book – I wanted to know why he (and all the other people who came here) chose Blackfen as the place to make a new life.

Woodman Parade smartening up cont.

Thanks to the sunshine, we managed to finish weeding the pavement and painting the railings at Woodman Parade, Westwood Lane on 29 April. Well done to everyone involved over the last two weeks. And thanks to the ice-cream van man and The Broken Drum for much-needed refreshments afterwards!

Smartening up nicely

At 10am on Saturday 22 April a group of volunteers met to paint the railings and weed the pavement along Woodman Parade in Westwood Lane, Blackfen. We were joined by Rt Hon. James Brokenshire, MP and Councillors Louie French, Cafer Munur and Lynn Smith. Despite the rain (how unlucky!) we carried on and it has made such a difference in just a couple of hours.

Thank you to Raw Hair Salon for the tea/coffee and biscuits! We will return soon to continue the job.

And happy 2nd birthday to The Broken Drum!

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Blackfen in 1822

While carrying out my New Year’s Resolution of having a bit of a tidy up/clear out, I was looking over my Blackfen research papers (I have boxes and boxes of them…), and I came across a copy of the Survey and Valuation of all the Rateable Property in the Borough of Bexley taken on 11 April 1822. It provides a fascinating snapshot of the Bexley area at that time.

Blackfen at that time was just a tiny hamlet. Its inhabitants consisted of:

BLACK FENN

James Townsend: house, garden and orchard (owned by James Townsend)

Edmund Newsted: house, garden and orchard (owned by James Townsend)

Thomas Tyler: farm house, barn, yard, stables, garden, orchard, arable and meadow land (owned by Lord Sidney)

Robert Ingram: farm house, yard, barns, stable, garden, arable and meadow land (owned by Messrs Day)

Thomas Warde: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

William Smith: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

Staples: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

Newsted: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

Foster: house and garden (owned by John Johnston, Esq.)

Near Black Fenn, on Danson land, were the Whale family living in a cottage with stable and garden. This fascinated me at the time because whale jaw bones had been discovered when Westwood Lane was made up in the 1930s. I had no idea what whale jaw bones were doing there and wondered if it was anything to do with this family named Whale!

Police Officer shot during arrest

From http://www.met.police.uk 4 October 2014

A man has been arrested after a police officer was shot in the hand in Welling.

Police were called at around 21.10hrs on Friday 3 October to reports of a car having collided with a number of cars and then a lamppost on Westwood Lane, Blackfen.

The suspected driver of the car was seen to walk off from the scene. A short time later, a man matching the description of the suspected driver was stopped by two Bexley officers in Wendover Way. This man then produced a revolver style handgun, pointed it at officers, and discharged it. One of the officers, a male PC, suffered a gunshot wound to the hand.

The second officer, also male, detained the suspect, aged 51, and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and drink driving – he remains in custody. Both officers were taken to a local hospital for treatment and have both since been discharged. They are being provided with welfare support by the Metropolitan Police.

Borough Commander of Bexley Peter Ayling said:

“Last night’s incident highlights the dangers that police officers can face as they go about their job. My officers, knowing they were faced with a man in possession of a firearm, did not shirk from their duty to protect Londoners. They bravely confronted this man, disarmed him and arrested him – I cannot praise their courage enough.”

The weapon and ammunition was recovered at the scene. Officers from Trident investigate – enquiries continue.

Anyone who witnessed the incidents is asked to contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The incident was reported in the News Shopper and can be seen here. It was also reported on the front page of the News Shopper 8 Oct. 2014.